German actress and power yoga expert Ursula Karven turns 50 and is not afraid to celebrate big style. With untamed optimism she embraces life to the full and happily enters a new stage.
The timing for our interview couldn’t have been worse. Ursula Karven experienced a major water pipe burst in her home just as the final preparations for her big birthday bash were well under way. “I am sleeping on the couch, my place is a mess and handymen are working in every corner,” she reports. But she light-heartedly chats away as if nothing has happened. “I see it positively, it excuses me from all my duties. The water damage is uncomfortable, but it allows me to relax, because I have been forced to outsource everything.” So just like that, many guests from all over the world were subject to a slight change of plan. At this point I am pretty sure that the famous words “keep calm and carry on” must have been invented by Ms Karven.
“I love new challenges and I grow with them”
Karven was born and raised in Germany. She studied at the Lee Strasberg Institute in Los Angeles before she landed her first movie role in 1984. Since then she has made it to the top of the German acting elite and pretty much covers all genres, including family saga The Guldenburgs and Germany’s prime time crime series Tatort. She speaks four languages and is a talented mezzo soprano. Off set, the slimly built beauty is a well-acclaimed power yoga expert, a business woman and a published author. Together with friends she founded bellybutton 17 years ago, now a flourishing kids and maternity clothing label. But she makes one thing very clear: “My job is being an actress. This is my passion and this is what drives me. I love new challenges and I grow with them. Actors are always on a mission to find themselves, they just love to learn to be challenged.” For her latest movie she learned horse-riding and despite having played many roles in her life, there is still one on the wishlist. “I would love to play a musician, who is completely wrapped up in her music. I wouldn’t mind learning a new instrument for it,” the blue-eyed multitalent admits.
As a young actress, she lived the dream in Hollywood. Married to Californian producer and actor James Veres she had three children and was rubbing shoulders with the stars. But destiny changed its pass.
Karven found some solace in yoga. “Yoga has helped me tremendously to cope with things in my life, to stand up again and be able to have a smile on my face,“ she says. “Back then the whole power yoga movement had just started. Everyone from Madonna to Gwyneth Paltrow was carrying yoga mats through LA.” Today Karven is a firm believer in the benefits of power yoga. “It is a holistic movement concept that strengthens from the inside. It is a very dynamic form of yoga that is based on the classic yoga ingredients, but has been adjusted to today’s busy lifestyle. We need to detox, sweat and build muscles, especially with an ever increasing life-expectancy,” she recommends. When it comes to skincare Karven also prefers the natural solution. She serves as a brand ambassador for the organic cosmetic label Logona. “Logona is perfect for me, I knew the brand from my time in Los Angeles and always had an eye on it. Latest scientific research is merged with all-natural ingredients, so we are the perfect match. For me this is a very honest approach to cosmetics.”
“Something between a princess and a ranger”
It is hard to pigeonhole Karven. She seems to find something positive in everything, an eternal optimist whose glass of water is always half full. Asked how she would describe herself she says: “Something between a princess and q ranger. On the one hand side, I set myself very high standards. I was born like that, with a strong sense of perfectionism. On the other side, I have the ability to absolutely lose myself in nature. When I am out in the woods I really feel my inner self. It is a blend of high aspiration and complete modesty,” she explains. With Veres she lived in California and on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca, but the marriage didn’t last and as she puts it, “he has always had issues with the German weather.” Karven is now happily residing in Berlin with her two boys. “Berlin offers anonymity. Berliners are very easy-going with each other and they make no fuss. I like it a lot. Young people can live a good life here and eat well on a small budget. I love this multicoloured melting-pot with its incredible cultural variety. Berlin is a sexy town where no one is judged by the cover. I can go to the baker in my pyjamas and no one cares,“ she muses.
Her older son is 20; he has finished school and follows in his mother’s footsteps. “I really tried hard to make him choose something else, but he wants to be an actor,“ she says, pointing out that he has just finished his first movie. “And you know what? I am so proud of him,” she winks. Her younger son is 11 and Karven is a passionate hands-on mum. But one day she will eventually become an empty nester and she already has plans for that. “One of my goals is to help make a difference in girls’ education in another country. I want to engage in a charitable organsisation that focuses on female education, because education is the greatest good. It is so very important.”
Life is good and just before her birthday, Swedish beau and long-term boyfriend Mats Wahlström proposed to her in the most romantic way. While touring the island of Majorca on a motorbike the entrepreneur secretly placed the ring in her helmet before he popped the question. Karven did not see this coming, but she said yes ̶ just like she says yes to 50. “I celebrate my life and everyone who is part of it. I just want to say thank you to all those who travelled with me throughout the many years.” According to her everything happens for a reason and she concludes: “I always try to make the most of my situation and get the message. There is always a message.